Literary Twitter’s Best Responses to Jonathan Franzen’s Rules for Writing
"He's won. Franzen's won."
Yesterday, we published a lot of great pieces that probably not that many people read because they were too busy talking about this one on Twitter. (NB, the piece was originally published in The Guardian eight years ago, so at least give him a break for not anticipating the vitality of Google Docs.)
For many Twitter users, the first response was denial:
who is Jonathan Franzen
— Wendy C. Ortiz (@WendyCOrtiz) November 15, 2018Article continues after advertisement
But some people appreciated the throwback to a simpler Internet time.
Remember when making fun of Franzen was like all we did on here?
— Dana @ EditorialEyes (@dana_edits) November 15, 2018
Franzen is such a fun literary villain. Let’s just take a moment to thank him for that. https://t.co/cwf3QNDDTS
— April Wolfe (@AWolfeful) November 15, 2018Article continues after advertisement
Franzen may have made a powerful enemy of Library Twitter…
— Susan Wiggs (@susanwiggs) November 15, 2018
But he neither knows nor cares!
What can you do. You can’t @ him. You can make memes about how he looks like little Bill from Boogie Nights. He’ll never see them. He’s won. Franzen’s won. https://t.co/tNppDGd5Tl
— Colin Barrett (@ColinBarrett82) November 15, 2018
This being the Year of Our Twitter 2018, there was a (pretty well-reasoned, honestly) backlash to the backlash:
Yesterday: “I swear I can’t even write a paragraph these days unless I use Freedom app.”
Today: “JohNOthan FranZERO says you shouldn’t write while the internet is on?!?!?! lol What does that luddite jerkface even MEAN?”
— Lincoln Michel (@TheLincoln) November 15, 2018
The sentiment of #NotAllNovelists was strong.
— Angie Thomas (@angiecthomas) November 15, 2018
And then there were the alternative rules:
10. Should shut the fuck up!
— Monica Youn (@MonicaYoun) November 15, 2018
My 7 rules for book writing
2. Have a Frankenstein in it
3. Do not talk about Book Writing
4. Do not talk about Book Writing
5. It should take place on a boat
6. A scene where a guy splits a bullet in half with a sword
7. Have a nice plant on your writing desk
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) November 15, 2018
Okay here are my rules for writing:
read a lot, read widely, read deeply, read poetry, reread, keep reading
— R.O. Kwon (@rokwon) November 15, 2018
here are my ten writing rules
1. put words after words, make sure most of them are real words and not ones you made up
2. have you tried coffee
3. finish your shit
4. don’t be an asshole on the page or to the people in your industry
5. definitely don’t listen to jonathan franzen
— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) November 15, 2018
MY TEN TULES I MEAN RULES FOR WRITINGhttps://t.co/z8p2L3RqcX cnady crush 4 45 mins
2.send inapropriate gardfield pic 2 @food4thotpod group chat
6.make sex date 4 next city
8.damn angela bassett
— Tommy Pico (@heyteebs) November 15, 2018
Which were pretty great, actually! Except for one thing: Look what you’ve done to Garrard Conley, you monsters.
For a second I just thought we were all talking about our writing rules with glee and earnestness and not snarkily responding to a poorly written list, and this is 100% why my classmates hated me in school
— Garrard Conley (@gayrodcon) November 15, 2018
All in all, we all learned a little something. For me, it was: Don’t publish an article by Jonathan Franzen on the most hung-over day of the literary year. Now take it away, Celeste Ng:
— Celeste Ng (@pronounced_ing) November 16, 2018